Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last Night at the SEAFARER. (NOT a review)

THE SEAFARER by Conor McPhersonI went to see The Seafarer at Mosaic Theatre last night. I've never been out there, and Ken Clement keeps growling at me about never seeing the best plays he's in, so I was overdue. Factor in recent press, and the fact that I had the next day off, I headed out to deepest, darkest, Plantation.

And it was dark on the American Heritage High School campus that is home to Mosaic; most of the exterior lights seemed to be off. I would hope that this was an unfortunate lapse as opposed to the status quo.

But I made it to the black box, picked up my ticket from the lovely Liz, and met Richard Jay Simon. We've exchanged an email or two, but never actually met. Introductions, then I had to get to my seat for the show.

It's a nice space to see a show; intimate, but with adequate risers so you can see the show. It was reasonably full on a Saturday. A marked contrast to Still the River Runs at Promethean. The night I saw that there were a total of eight people in the house.

I don't review plays, and I'm not going to start now. But I will say I enjoyed it immensely. This is the kind of acting I enjoy; the kind you can't see. It didn't feel like we were watching a play, it felt like we were peeking into someone's life. A comically shabby life full of colorful characters, but a real one.

As a set designer, I was enjoying the set: it's the kind of thing I like: a space crumbling into ruin, but still desperately trying to be habitable. It made wonderful use of found items, and surface textures. I had to laugh when I recognized the wood-burning stove as one I built a few years ago for a show. High praise indeed, to see it incorporated into a set with such high production values. The table next to the easy chair came from my mother's farmhouse in Virginia. I know which props departments they've been raiding!
soap box
This sort of drives home a point that I've made about the theater community: there's a necessary level of connected-ness. We must share resources; designers, technicians, and performers as well as props and set pieces. Oops, let me step off this soap-box.

I know most of the people in the show, although this is the first time I've seen Dennis Creaghan or Christian Rockwell. Creaghan is rock solid as the irascible and easily irritated Richard. Greg Weiner, as his younger brother Sharkey, delivered a solid performance, as did John Felix. Rockwell's Nicky was irritating; but Nicky's an irritating guy. At some point, you realize Nicky's poncing sycophancy is actually as sincere as Nicky can be. And Ken Clement, was jovial as the affable Lockhart right up to the point where he was suddenly terrifying.
"Ooh, I've been waiting for you, Sharkey..."
By intermission, I was wondering when I'd get to read the reviews, and I vaguely remembered that it had just opened. Then I realized that Christine Dolen was in line at the concession stand directly in front of me; we were both retrieving our credit card receipts. She was with friends, so I didn't intrude.

After the show, I congratulated Richard Jay, and we discussed the Carbonell situation. And then he introduced me to Brandon K. Thorp. Some people seem to believe I have it in for Brandon, but I actually really enjoy reading his reviews, although, obviously, sometimes I think he gets distracted. We had a great conversation,and he graciously introduced me to his mother, who had come to see the show with him. "Hey, Mom - this is Chris; you know, South Florida Theatre Scene!" he said. I guess I've been a topic of discussion in the Thorp household, once or twice. But the Thorps seemed to recognize in me what I have always recognized in Brandon: a love of theatre. also talked a bit about the Carbonell situation, and also about theatre blogs. He asked if I'd be writing about Seafarer, and I said that I would, but not as a reviewer. We talked a moment about endorsing a show without reviewing, and I brought up Still the River Runs. He asked if I'd enjoyed the show. I had to confess that I didn't, but as an actor, I find it hard to blame the actors - live performances are fueled by the audience, and these guys were sucking dust. They were valiant in a dire situation. I wish I'd had a chance to see it with an audience.

He asked about Theatre Scene readership; and while I'm happy to report that you faithful readers have been increasing steadily, I average only about 100 readers per day. It's about ten percent of my blog Man, Or Maniac? but respectable nonetheless, considering that it never gets any national traffic like MoM. Those of you who read find it to be useful and informative, and that is my goal.

Richard Jay Simon's first words to me last night were "I love reading your blog!" And that's all the ovation I could want.

All in all, it was a nice night out.


  1. My sincerest thank-yous for the Hansel and Gretel!! I wondered who's twisted humor came up with that!!

  2. I'm glad you liked it. I built it for Murder; twisted seemd appropriate!